INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Pacers guard Jeff Teague looked like a natural playing a leading role Monday night.
With Paul George struggling and the Pacers in desperate need of a win, the former All-Star jumped in and didn’t miss a beat. Teague had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists to help Indiana fend off the road-weary Utah Jazz 107-100.
"We played well tonight, we played hard, we were a group out there," Teague said. "Defensively, I think we did a really great job."
The Pacers kept up an uncanny trend of trading wins and losses. They haven’t done either in back-to-back games since mid-February and need to change direction if they intend to maintain or improve upon their current No. 6 position in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
George finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists despite going 6 of 20 from the field and not making a basket until the 8:41 mark of the third quarter.
Instead, Teague and his teammates made just enough plays until George finally got on track, scoring the last seven Indiana points to seal it.
"It was time to win a ballgame," George said after waving his arms and shouting to the crowd. "I would have been ashamed if we fought that hard, especially on a back-to-back where we’ve given all our energy, and lost a game late."
Former Butler star Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 38 points to lead the Jazz, who have lost three straight. Rudy Gobert added 16 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high eight blocks on the final stop of Utah’s four-game road trip.
"I would have rather had zero points and won the game," Hayward said.
WARRIORS 111, THUNDER 95: In Oklahoma City, Klay Thompson scored 34 points to lead Golden State in a heated matchup filled with trash talking, physical play and technical fouls.
It was Golden State’s second visit to Oklahoma City since former Thunder star Kevin Durant signed a free-agent contract with the rival Warriors last summer. Durant has been out since February with a left knee injury and sat on the bench with his team.
Even with Durant out, the negative energy from the first meeting was still there. Stephen Curry exchanged shoves with Oklahoma City’s Semaj Christon just before halftime, and both were issued technical fouls. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Golden State’s Draymond Green also got technical for their roles in the skirmish.